With flu season at its peak, doctors and medical specialists are advising residents to get their vaccinations. Although January and February are flu season's peak, infectious disease specialist Julie Varughese of Norwalk Medical Group says the flu season can continue on as late as May.
"Vaccination is the number one way to prevent the flu. The vaccine is created to cover the strains that are created to be the most prevalent for that particular season and what we're finding is that one of the most prevalent strains in this season is covered in the flu vaccine."
She says those strains include H1N1, H3N2, influenza A and influenza B.
"Some people think once they've gotten the flu, they don't need to get the vaccine because they are immune, but again there's different strains. Even if you may have had the flu with one particular strain, you can still protect yourself by getting the vaccine against other strains."
Reports show as of January 4, there have been 683 reported cases of the flu in Connecticut alone, with 239 cases in Fairfield County. The state has also seen two flu-related deaths and 142 hospitalizations.
"Some other myths are that once you get the flu vaccine you're completely protected from getting the flu, while that's the best thing you can do to prevent the flu, it doesn't protect you from all strains of the flu. So if there's a different strain that someone is infected with, even if they got the vaccine they can still become ill from the flu."
Varughese also says another myth is that the vaccination causes the flu. Vaccines enable antibodies to develop in the body, which protect against infection with the viruses contained in the vaccine.
"The injectable flu vaccine is an inactive virus vaccine so technically it should not be making anyone sick. What can happen is the body can take a couple of weeks to build immunity. So there are times where the person might get sick regardless because their body is still building up immunity during that time-period, but it's not like the vaccine itself is making the person sick."
She says if you are sick, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
"Other ways to prevent getting the flu are frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when your coughing if your sick. That helps prevent the flu virus by being transmitted to someone else who isn't sick. Also some basics like drinking lots of fluids, staying healthy as far as your diet, exercise. These are things that not only boast your immune system. That help not only with flu but other long-term illnesses as well."